Apr 2018

When you think about building your own web application, not only do you have to find developers, but it is also crucial to calculate the budget. However, it is impossible to say how much developing a web app costs down to the penny.


Estimation depends not only on the hourly rate for developers’ services, but also on the following factors:

  • the complexity of the application: it is important to understand whether you need to estimate the cost of building website or calculate the price for a full-fledged web application;
  • the costs of supporting backend: hosting and domain have to be paid for to keep your application running;
  • fixing bugs and adding new features after launching the product: sometimes, serious bugs are revealed after the launch, and fixing them requires significant expenses.

We are inviting you to take a closer look at all the factors that impact the final cost of your application development below. Knowledge is power, and knowing about these factors is going to allow you to make an estimation of future expenses as precisely as possible.

Web Application Development Cost Estimation: Let’s Analyze All 7 Stages Of The Development

So, let’s find out what stages the process of working on a new project is divided into and what factors on each stage have a direct influence on its pricing.

1. Market Research


Actually, market research is the most important stage on the way to launching any web application. It allows establishing how relevant, needed and competitive the future product is going to be. It is absolutely necessary when a web application is intended for a wide target group that has not been narrowed down. However, you may want to create a web application for business purposes (for instance, you plan to build a solution solely for corporate use). In such case, this development stage is limited to planning functionality and creating documentation.

One way or another, we recommend you to build Minimum Viable Product (MVP) first in order to minimize the risks for your financial well-being. MVP is a product that has a limited set of features (which is beneficial in terms of planning the budget), yet can demonstrate its target group all the main perks. MVP is capable of clearly showing what it has been created for in the first place. For instance, such startups as Airbnb, Dropbox, and Buffer, started their way to success from building MVPs.

Most part of project costs are developer salaries. They can vary due to the type of cooperation: you can either hire in-house experts, freelancers or specialized web development companies. To give you an example, here’s Upwork’s 2018 hourly-rate statistics by project type:

Type of Project Description Average  Hourly Rate
Basic One-Page Site Just one-page coding. A basic lead-gen page or landing page. $15-40+
CMS Code Customization (WordPress, Joomla, etc.) Basic customizations of your theme’s code or general functionality of a common CMS platform. $30-75+
Full Custom Site Code (typically enterprise) Building a design from scratch with custom code and design elements. Usually, a large project that requires coding from the ground up. $75-150+


2. Choosing Development Tools


The next stage of product development is researching how it can be implemented and, afterward, choosing the development tools. Considering that most frameworks and SDK are not cheap (sometimes, the license per one developer costs up to several hundred dollars), it makes perfect sense to include the use of licensed software into the budget outline for your hired development team.

Besides that, when you calculate the website development cost, you are quite likely to have to take into account the cost of quite expensive plugins or connecting to payment getaways (the latter one is necessary for e-commerce websites).

3. Making A Detailed Product Development Plan On


This stage is all about making a plan for developing and testing your web application. All development team members should be given clear tasks that must be done within a certain amount of working hours. This is why, as a rule, clients receive a precise estimation of their products’ development and are able to evaluate whether invested resources are worth the result only after creating a detailed plan. Costs for this stage, on average, can comprise 8 – 15% of the total project cost.

4. Development


Development is the most time-consuming process among all the stages of creating a product. Sometimes, in case there have been some misunderstandings or something has not been discussed properly between the client and the development team, a huge number of new additions and adjustments can appear during this stage. Obviously, such a situation leads to additional expenses that amount to thousands of dollars for the owner of the product.

In order to avoid this, we strongly recommend you to turn to experienced and fully staffed IT companies. Companies that are worth your trust follow the approved methodologies (e.g., generally accepted Agile methodology) and the working processes are supervised by competent specialists that are used to working in teams.

It is also worth pointing out that web app designing can be a separate object of expenditure. It is especially crucial when the product itself is intended to be used on a large scale. It takes IT companies a lot of time to develop a modern design that is inspired by the latest trends. Besides, they may need to outsource certain aspects of web design to companies that specialize, for instance, in creating animations, 3D models, etc.

5. Testing


Obviously, following the Agile methodology, the developed solution is tested during each sprint. However, such testing is done in the so-called “office” conditions. Testers are well-familiar with how a certain part of the application is supposed to be working. Yet, when the application ends up in the hands of end users, they expect its UI to be intuitive and understandable. Besides, end users prefer to be able to launch the application on any device and any OS. These expectations are quite often underestimated by developers and, therefore, cannot be fully met. As the result, the application may not survive in the field conditions.

In order to minimize such risks, the development team searches for volunteers who are willing to be beta-testers. Such volunteers are, basically, average people that can be unfamiliar with the world of IT development and even with using web application daily. In most cases, such services can be free only if your brand has acquired a certain level of fame among your target group. If this is not your case, you will have to invest a certain amount of money in your product being used for some time by random groups of people in order to receive feedback based on real user experience.

6. Launching The Product


Considering that your application is based on web technologies, it is obvious that you need to reserve a domain name and hosting to launch it. Obviously, these services are not free at all, and you will need to pay for them regularly.

Besides, this whole stage is likely to be accompanied by a marketing campaign, including, perhaps, advertisements of your new product (of course, only in case you launch a product intended for mass use). Marketers’ high-quality services don’t come at a low price either.

7. Technical Support


After your web application is launched, you should be prepared to users’ complaints regarding bugs. Sometimes, the reason is not developers’ negligence towards the developed product, but completely illogical user behavior that couldn’t have been taken into account before because beta testing was not long enough.

Sometimes, the product owner makes a decision to modernize or expand the current functionality of the web app after a certain period of time. In this case, he or she needs to turn to developers to implement the desired changes. One way or another, technical support of an already launched solution is not free as well.

Development budget risks

Planning your project total budget, keep in mind also the possible risks that can provoke additional expenditures.

  • Team performance downtimes on some development stages can cost approximately 5-10% of your overall budget. If the development process isn’t organized properly enough, you will most probably face a situation where there is no work for programmers, but they still must be paid salaries. For instance:
    • A project is finished and it must be thoroughly tested. The final testing usually takes 1-3 weeks and your team will have to wait for regular portions of bugs periodically;
    • A non-correspondence between stages may take place: a back-end is complete while a front-end is stuck on the design stage. A front-end expert won’t have anything to do for some time;
    • There may also appear inconsistencies inside a team, e.g. a programmer must wait for some other expert’s completed work.
  • Are you planning active promotion during the launch? This will probably cause an intense flow of users, so be prepared to hire additional working force to support everything and take care of bugs. And bugs will appear during the factual use of your product by real users, no matter how good you tested it. Your main team will be working on the next stage while anything that goes wrong with the working solution will have to be fixed and supported;
  • Many skip this part, but any discussions during the project development take time as well. The more people your project involves the more time it takes to communicate and coordinate everybody. You will need time to:
    • Explain all the development plan nuances and introduction into the basic aspects;
    • Organize meetups for the discussion of development nuances;
    • Coordinate teamwork;
    • Discuss retrospectives as to the completed work;
    • Consult less experienced programmers with the help of team lead.
  • You may think that the solution performs just fine, but nobody can be sure when it comes to well-hidden flaws in functionality. If some feature or module isn’t implemented in close correspondence with what you planned initially, you’ll have to spend about 10% of total project budget to fix everything in the best-case scenario;
  • You may also realize that certain additions or alterations must be made in the functionality during development or testing stages. Some things just can’t be predicted before they are fully implemented. 30% of initial budget can safely be dedicated to such dynamic customizations;
  • Keep in mind that the main development – team lead – will be spending only part of their time on development. The rest of the time, they will be managing the performance of other programmers – review their code, architecture structure, and consult them at all times;
  • There may occur a bunch of other unpredictable situations: a necessity to hire narrow-focused experts.

Most of these issues concern the development with an hourly-rate format of payments. You may avoid many cumbersome moments if you work with the Fixed Price model.

Management & additional costs

To finish off the feature and get to an ultimate conclusion, let’s also take a look at the following expenses:

  • Management. The development is lead by the people that must be motivated and coordinated. You can do it all personally or hire specialized experts. In any case, both your and experts’ time will cost – don’t forget about that during the budget planning;
  • Additional expenses, such as:
    • involvement of independent quality assurance specialists;
    • rental of at least 2 types of servers: for production and testing;
    • work of copywriters, content managers, video makers;
    • purchase of graphics: photo/video;
    • payment of secondary services: sms/email senders, monitoring and analytics systems, online chats, etc.

Overall calculations

At this point, you must be expecting to see a table with ultimate end prices and rightfully so. But there are many aspects affecting the final pricing of a particular project which all must be reviewed and analyzed. Well, let’s do it the following, approximate way:

MVP for different project types Approximate cost
Simple app with humble functionality up to 15 000$
SaaS app with access to website functionality by subscription up to 25 000$
SaaS solution with separate sub-resources for each customer (SaaS CRM systems, marketplaces) up to 50 000$
Business automation systems (CRM, ERP development) up to 20 000$

Notice that all prices are very approximate. Contact us for detailed calculations.

How Much Does It Cost To Make A Web App: Conclusion

Let’s sum up. As we can see, developing your own web application is a multi-stage process. That’s why it is obvious that the cost of web development can’t be calculated until developers make a plan on its development, launch, and further technical support.

If you have come up with an idea for a startup, or you are willing to create a corporate web application for your company, feel free to reach out to us. We are always clear and willing to provide our clients with the most cost-efficient ways to implement the desired functionality. As the result, you will get an effective and well-operating product at the best quality-price ratio for your budget restraints.

Ilya Smyrnov

Author: Ilya Smyrnov

Position: CEO, Business analyst

Biography: Более 8 лет занимаюсь анализом бизнесов клиентов и повышаю их эффективность с помощью внедрения IT-решений.

Thank you for your interest!

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